Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. More than 1,200 Americans die every single day from a tobacco-related illness. Unfortunately, these concrete facts have not stopped Dollar General from deciding to sell tobacco products, like cigarettes, in their stores nationwide.
In a statement, Dollar General said that they would start selling tobacco products in their stores starting in mid-2013. They mentioned that its core customers are more likely to smoke than the national average, which is less than 20 percent of adult Americans. They fail to mention that their core customers are considered "low- and middle-income." Low-income individuals have some of the highest smoking rates in America. According to the New York State Department of Health, a smoker making under $15,000 a year spends almost 25 percent of their income on cigarettes.
Now that Dollar General has decided to sell cigarettes, more youth will be exposed to tobacco industry advertising and marketing. This can make kids think that smoking is a completely normal thing to do, even though only 18.6 percent of adults in New York state are smokers.
We need to protect our kids from ever picking up a cigarette, and the best way to do this would be to reduce the amount of tobacco advertising they see around their communities. For more information, visit realitycheckofny.com.
Program coordinator, Reality Check of Hamilton, Fulton, and Montgomery Counties